Friday music choice 21.5.10

Unbroken by Stan Walker; Kiwi, winner of Australia Idol and Jesus follower

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Quotable

Every day, Bennets bookshop on Lambton Quay has a quote of the day. This was yesterday’s:

“Politics is the art of winning votes from the poor, campaign funds form the rich and protecting both groups from each other”

The dark side of Apple?

The iPod, the iPhone,  and now the iPad. Apple has the market cornered on technology and many of you are fully paid up members of the Apple fan club.

But maybe you should think about the dark side of Apple? Damon Young of the National Times has…

In our bedroom is a sleek white box. ”Designed,” I read, ”by Apple in California.” It’s decorated with crisp phrases and lively pictures.

The computer within is built with sheets of elegant, unbroken aluminium. The operating system ”just works”, it claims. It’s all seamless.

We also see this in iPad advertisements: someone rapidly, effortlessly moving from email to photos and movies with the flick of a finger – again, all seamless.

It’s a vision of an integrated, hiccup-free life, glossed by polished plastic, buffed metal and nice white boxes. It’s entrancing.

But I remind myself: there’s a dark side to this speck-free gleam, which Apple fans ignore. Most obviously, Apple is unhealthily obsessive about its image.

The company recently prodded the US talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres to apologise for making fun of the iPhone on her show. She’d poked fun at the gadget, and herself, as she fumbled with fingers too big for the onscreen buttons.

”Think differently,” the Apple ads once told us. Just as long as you don’t say what you’re thinking, it seems. Like fundamentalists everywhere, Apple can’t laugh at itself.

Apple is similarly serious about its secrets. An Apple employee was recently sacked for showing an iPad to Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple but no longer works for the company.

He briefly saw the device only hours before it was officially launched. Not a big deal, according to Apple chief executive Steve Jobs – but the engineer was still fired.

Of course Apple deserves its hi-tech hush-hush. But in its recent swag of lawsuits, secrecy and criminal charges, the company suddenly looks like the Big Brother it once attacked in its advertising: gunning for aesthetic, corporate and technological control.

The new iPad is a product of this philosophy. Sold on the promise of easy freedom and adaptability, it’s engineered to be inflexible. It runs countless applications and probably with speed and panache – but only if the programs are approved by Apple.

Want music? iTunes. Want a book? iBook.

The company can also remove or disable applications remotely, without consulting users. As Frederic Filloux put it in The Washington Post: ”With the iPad structure, Apple is creating absolute control for product, delivery and even ownership that can be revoked at will.”

In this, Apple is just doing what most multinationals try to do everywhere: the restriction of options and possibilities, in the service of market share. It’s not tyranny, or I couldn’t freely write this. But it is something tyrannies encourage.

Ad Feedback It’s why folks are worried about Apple’s proprietary bookshop, Amazon’s book-snatching Kindle and Google’s country-specific search restrictions: they’re exercises in corporate control.

The point is not that digital technology or corporations are one-dimensionally evil. Instead, it reveals the dangers of our own weakness for seamlessness: it can be enslaving, not emancipating.

It can tempt us to buy, and buy into, myths of aesthetic or technological perfection, rather than questioning their contribution to human flourishing.

Despite aspirations of magic and mastery, I suspect Steve Jobs won’t have it all his way. Neither will Bill Gates, or the rest of their small cadre of market warlords.

At the heart of this will be a conscious refusal of integrated, automatic, proprietary perfection. Some will hack their iPads, installing their own programs or patches.

Others will simply grow up and recognise the shallowness of fan loyalty to a fickle brand. Another opposition will be legal: anti-trust laws against smug monopoly.

There is also the ”back to basics” movement, resisting digital seduction, for what’s manual, unorthodox or unfashionable. If older tools are inefficient, they can also be cheaper, simpler, more flexible. ‘

And they can encourage craft, rather than deference to remotely controllable, pre-programmed routines. For wireless portability and creativity, a $10 fountain pen can be a better investment than a $1000 iPad.

All in all, Apple still makes robust, fast, beautiful computers. But the technology is only as liberating as I am liberated.

And, shock horror: Apple won’t design this for me in California.

Damon Young is a philosopher and the author of Distraction: A Philosopher’s Guide to Being Free.

England in emphatic win

England smashed the Aussies in the World Twenty20 Cup Final earlier today!

Great news for a grey and rainy Monday in Wellington.

Read all about it here.

Oh, and the crap version of the Hurricanes turned up on Friday and lost 32-16 to the Waratahs…oh well…

Hurricanes in a hurry…

The Wellington Hurricanes…

For me, they are the rugby equivalent of West Ham; a perennial source of both endless frustration and unbridled delight.

Still at least the Hurricanes make some finals and have been known to win something every so often!

Currently the Hurricanes are having ‘one of those seasons’. They won the first 3 games, then lost 5 in a row and have now won the last 4 to put them in contention for a place in the Super 14 semi- finals.

Last week i went to the match against the Queensland Reds and Matt, Jonny, Chris and Bustin came along (the latter for his first taste of southern hemisphere and super 14 action!).

The match was a microcosm of why the Hurricanes are a source of endless energy sapping moments as a supporter.

They score first and go 8-0 up then play like a pack of 3 legged donkeys as the Reds rocket to a 21-8 lead with a minute to go before halftime.

Then the Hurricanes score a length of the field contender for try of the season and go into the halftime break only 21-13 down.

Clearly they had a god talking to and had extra superpowers in their cups of tea as in the second half they torched the Reds for 31 unanswered points to end up winning 44-21!

Clearly the Hurricanes are on a roll and in a hurry. Tonight they play the NSW Waratahs for a place in the semi finals; but which version of the Hurricanes will turn up?

Who knows? But as usual, it will be entertaining finding out…